Bill Harvey: Where’s your head at?

As we move towards the end of mental health awareness week, I was interested to read how some health professionals have raised concerns about the goals of such a programme. Perhaps most widely quoted has been the psychiatrist Simon Wessely who stated: ‘We don’t need people to be more aware. We can’t deal with the ones who are already aware.’  

This raises two points that, in my view, are of interest to the eye care professional (ECP). Firstly, the theme of this week is to heighten awareness of anxiety, something that is estimated to affect, to some degree, up to a quarter of the population.  

The concern here is that an already oversubscribed and underfunded mental health service will become swamped to the detriment of those requiring much more specialist and medical interventions, such as people with schizophrenia.  

Is there not a role here for all primary care clinicians to be able to help ‘triage’ those with anxiety disorders and direct them to more generalised counselling services? Or perhaps, with suitable training, offer helpful advice directly?  

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